Cancer Genes Decoded For First Time

Breakthrough view into cancer's genetic roots promises new battle realm
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2008 2:10 AM CST
A lab officer cuts a DNA fragment under UV light from an agarose gel for DNA sequencing as part of research to determine genetic mutation in a blood cancer patient.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
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(Newser) – Scientists have unlocked cancer's genetic blueprint for the first time, the New York Times reports. Working with cells from a woman who died of leukemia, they decoded her entire DNA sequence and zeroed in on ten mutations that occurred only in the cancerous cells. Researchers say the breakthrough could someday yield powerful new tools to diagnose and treat cancer.

The whole-genome study, made possible by advances in DNA technology, pinpointed genes never before associated with cancer. Previous cancer studies had only examined small sections of DNA sequences. Within years, a single drop of a patient's blood could give doctors enough information to choose the most effective drugs, said the lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature.